Cuticle/nail biting, as the name suggests, involves the repetitive biting of the cuticles or nails. While it is normal to occasionally bite the cuticles and/or nails, people with OCD feel compelled to engage in this behaviour to find short-term relief from anxiety, distress, doubt, confusion, or another difficult emotion. These difficult emotions tend to arise from obsessions or any difficult thoughts.
What are the OCD symptoms?
Obsessions: The obsessions associated with cuticle/nail biting in OCD can be about anything, but specific examples include an obsession with making the area free of any rough edges or loose skin or improving a perceived flaw. Cuticle/nail biting can also arise because of more general difficult thoughts. The thoughts can take an infinite number of forms and are only limited by the brains capacity to imagine.
Compulsions: To manage the anxiety and distress associated with their obsessions or difficult thoughts, people with OCD may seek to reduce the amount of anxiety and distress caused by biting of the cuticles or nails. This compulsive behaviour provide short-term relief from the difficult emotions.
Why does it occur?
People with OCD may find themselves stuck in a cycle of obsessing, feeling anxious or distressed, and engaging in cuticle/nail biting to relieve the anxiety or distress for the short period until the obsession returns.